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Devs Wanted For Sybase Beta Upgrade

If less is more, is more too much?

No way, said Sybase, which released a beta version of the upgrade to SQL Anywhere database software. The upgrade includes a grab bag of more than 200 new features -- many expanding the company's reach into government and health care applications.

Most of the improvements in SQL Anywhere 10 focus on performance, data protection and data movement, said Chris Kleisath, senior director of engineering.

The improvements "are designed to help SQL scale into larger environments that include remote front-line locations that are distant from IT central data centers," explained Kleisath.

Windows and Linux versions of the beta software are now available for download from the company's Web site, with general availability scheduled for the third quarter of this year, he noted. Final pricing will be announced at this time.

Developers who want to participate in the beta program can register at here.

SQL Anywhere is currently installed in more than 9 million seats worldwide, with about 40 percent to 45 percent of sales presently coming from outside the U.S., added director of product management Mike Paola.

Some key features in SQL Anywhere 10 include improvements in security and encryption, in particular the software's ability to handle sensitive financial and health care information.

This new version, for example, provides added support for the FIPS 140-2 standard, which was developed by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology and Canada's Communications Security Establishment to protect government IT systems.

It is also used by health care organizations to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other federal regulations.

Sybase has put a synchronization spin on its approach to security by providing "table-level" encryption checks and balances that zero in on specific pieces rather than trying to encrypt and channel large chunks of the central database.

By beefing up encryption support, Sybase hopes to expand the use of SQL Anywhere in the state and federal government markets. The software is now used by a lot of municipal governments and agencies across the country, including North Carolina's Department of Transportation, said Paola.

The software also includes features that appeal to developers who dabble in mobile devices.

These include a variety of visualization and profiling tools that provide pre-defined "materialized views" of data that can be quickly channeled to a wireless smartphone or other small device.

"These materialized views store the results from that view in the database, so it does not have to be computed when it is requested," said Kleisath. "You can specify complex queries and have results stored in the database."

Support for Microsoft .NET 2.0 and the Symbian operating system are also included on the improvements menu.

Symbian support is important since the OS is presently installed in close to 59 million phones worldwide, according to Symbian. The Symbian OS also accounts for about 50 percent of the market, although some reports say that share has slipped in the past year or so.

"One of key design goals is to make the software very embeddable, and allow it to fit into a small footprint with out-of-the-box performance," said Kleisath.

Sybase also added to the software's Web services capabilities in this latest upgrade, with an eye toward organizations that are adopting service-oriented architectures (SOA) into their IT makeup.

"The software lets them make a Web service call from a mobile device, and then send that call up via a guaranteed transport method," he explained. "This call will then execute when the device is connected to the network."